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NFL Draft

Where Do Eagles Go From Here After QB Mess They Created?

  • The Draft Network
  • January 4, 2021
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Carson Wentz’s time in Philadelphia is coming to a close, and if there was any skepticism of that notion, Sunday night’s loss to Washington was a clear indicator that the franchise has clearly decided to move on from the former No. 2 overall pick.

For the first time in his Eagles career, Wentz was labeled a healthy scratch by head coach Doug Pederson, who chose to start rookie second-rounder Jalen Hurts in a matchup where Philadelphia’s attempt to play spoiler ultimately failed behind a three-quarter performance by Hurts and an “appearance” by Nate Sudfeld. When asked after the game why the decision was made to make the switch from Hurts to Sudfeld, Pederson simply replied he was “coaching to win the game.” It’s an interesting answer acknowledging the fact that Hurts, who by no means was stellar, simply accomplished what Wentz has so many times for Philadelphia in the past: making something out of nothing. 

Hurts didn’t turn any heads throwing the football Sunday night, but his innate ability to create outside the pocket and identify rushing lanes when plays broke down ultimately led to Philadelphia’s lead late in the first half. The questions began to arise on the exact direction of Pederson’s Eagles when Sudfeld took the field in the fourth quarter to “get his work in,” because “he’s been here for four years.”

I’m sorry, what? This is the National Football League, correct? When has there been a “mandatory play” rule? The decision was mind-boggling and it has left many speculating whether Pederson ultimately survives his scheduled meeting with team owner Jeffrey Lurie on Tuesday.   

How did the Eagles get here? How has an NFC East perennial power succumbed to the Hollywood drama and quarterback carousel of its fellow divisional foes? How has a seemingly strong quarterback-head coach relationship led to a potential departure of the quarterback that was looked upon as the leader for the next 15 years of the franchise?

Just last year, Wentz agreed to a four-year, $128 million extension that fully goes into effect next season. In a perfect scenario, even if the team were able to trade Wentz, they would still owe the signal-caller $33.8M, which would result in dead money on the team’s cap, per Spotrac. Additionally, the team would have only until the second day of the new league year in March to get a trade done or else they would owe Wentz his base salary of $22M guaranteed in 2021. 

Numbers aside, a Wentz departure would leave the team with its hands tied.

Truthful or not, Pederson has shared his likeness toward Wentz, saying Sunday he has the “utmost respect” for Wentz and he “trusts” either side can make amends, but actions are simply louder than words. Following Wentz’s benching against the Packers in Week 13 in which Wentz registered a pedestrian 79 yards through the air on 15 attempts (including four sacks), Pederson named Hurts the starter for the following week against the Saints—a game that then saw the former Oklahoma Sooner lead the Eagles to a 24-21 win. If anything, it was a long-overdue wake-up call for Wentz, who sits at the bottom of every major statistical category for quarterbacks in 2020. 

So, where does Philadelphia go next?

Quarterback questions aside, the Eagles just finished 2020 with a 4-11-1 record, the team’s worst mark since 2012. There are holes everywhere, Zach Ertz is seemingly on the outs, Darius Slay seems to be an overpay, a cap crunch is imminent, and a franchise rebuild could be closer than any expected.

Philadelphia has clinched the sixth pick in the upcoming draft, and with many options viable to suit the Eagles aging roster, could they go quarterback in a class as deep as this year’s to accompany Hurts and eliminate the shadow of Wentz? Of course. Will they? It may be the biggest question this offseason that has left many in Philadelphia pondering just how they got here.

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